OPINION9 November 2017

Technology and market researchers in unison

Innovations Opinion Technology UK

Is technology going to mark the death of market research as we know it? Quite the opposite, argues Maru Group CEO, Ged Parton


As a market researcher, I’m asked repeatedly by clients whether technology is our industry’s friend or foe. Indeed, over the past 10 years, the sheer speed of external technological developments has left many questioning whether the industry that we know and love will soon be rendered obsolete.

These concerns were recently highlighted by Shell’s James Johnstone, who noted that traditional market researchers “should be very worried” by the emergence of technology. James’ comments correctly highlight the need for the industry to move with the times. The question at hand is less whether automation is our enemy, but rather as researchers, we should be asking ourselves how we can embrace and harness technology to provide our clients with the kind of insights that can help them to adapt and improve their corporate strategy.

As I see it, the market research industry is entering a golden age, and this should be a source of inspiration for us all.

As researchers, technology provides us with access to a wealth of information which was previously inaccessible, allowing us to answer our clients’ problems faster and more accurately. But it is also providing us with the bandwidth to focus on the strategic services, which our clients value. As an industry, we must make the most of these opportunities to bolster our role as advisors in the boardrooms of our clients. And I believe that if we are to do this successfully, technology must play a central role.

However, while new technology provides us with access to an ocean of data and processes, it would be wrong to assume that it alone can provide clients with solutions. Technology can help deliver speed, but there is still a critical role for the researcher to play.

I believe that our researchers are central to the insight generation process; their ability to inject creativity or make an intellectual leap, help to unlock the client’s business problem. Whether they are looking at the data stream in isolation or as a wider data set, by adding a human dimension to the analysis, market researchers are still the game changers.

With this ethos firmly in mind, we launched Maru Group last year as a challenger to the traditional modus operandi of the market research industry. We have sought out companies with innovative technologies, which can then be incorporated into our platform.

The future of the industry lies in integration. For us to remain relevant as an industry, integrating new technology-focused products with the advisory expertise of market researchers is key; put simply, technology identifies the issues that market researchers alone can answer.

So, the industry should be relentlessly optimistic. By successfully integrating new technology platforms with our knowledge and expertise as advisors, I believe that we can harness the endless possibilities these technologies present and take the industry into a whole new direction.

Therein lies an exciting opportunity.

Ged Parton is CEO of the Maru Group